The neoconservative Bush administration will attack Iran with tactical nuclear weapons, because it is the only way the neocons believe they can rescue their goal of US (and Israeli) hegemony in the Middle East.
The US has lost the war in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Generals in both war theaters are stating their need for more troops. But there are no troops to send.
Bush has tried to pawn Afghanistan off on NATO, but Europe does not see any point in sacrificing its blood and money for the sake of American hegemony. The NATO troops in Afghanistan are experiencing substantial casualties from a revived Taliban, and European governments are not enthralled over providing cannon fodder for US hegemony.
The "coalition of the willing" has evaporated. Indeed, it never existed. Bush's "coalition" was assembled with bribes, threats, and intimidation. Pervez Musharraf, the American puppet ruler of Pakistan, let the cat out of the bag when he told CBS "60 Minutes" on September 24, 2006, that Pakistan had no choice about joining the "coalition." Brute coercion was applied. Musharraf said Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage told the Pakistani intelligence director that "you are with us" or "be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age." Armitage is trying to deny his threat, but Dawn Wire Service, reporting from Islamabad on September 16, 2001, on the pressure Bush was putting on Musharraf to facilitate the US attack on Afghanistan, states: "'Pakistan has the option to live in the 21st century or the Stone Age' is roughly how US officials are putting their case."
That Musharraf would volunteer this information on American television is a good indication that Bush has lost the war. Musharraf can no longer withstand the anger he has created against himself by helping the US slaughter his fellow Muslims in Bush's attempt to exercise US hegemony over the Muslim world. Bush cannot protect Musharraf from the wrath of Pakistanis, and so Musharraf has explained himself as having cooperated with Bush in order to prevent the US destruction of Pakistan: "One has to think and take actions in the interest of the nation, and that's what I did." Nevertheless, he said, he refused Bush's "ludicrous" demand that he arrest Pakistanis who publicly demonstrated against the US: "If somebody's expressing views, we cannot curb the expression of views."
Bush's defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel's defeat by Hezbollah in Lebanon have shown that the military firepower of the US and Israeli armies, though effective against massed Arab armies, cannot defeat guerillas and insurgencies. The US has battled in Iraq longer than it fought against Nazi Germany, and the situation in Iraq is out of control. The Taliban have regained half of Afghanistan. The King of Saudi Arabia has told Bush that the ground is shaking under his feet as unrest over the American/Israeli violence against Muslims builds to dangerous levels. Our Egyptian puppet sits atop 100 million Muslims who do not think that Egypt should be a lackey of US hegemony. The King of Jordan understands that Israeli policy is to drive every Palestinian into Jordan.
Bush is incapable of recognizing his mistake. He can only escalate. Plans have long been made to attack Iran. The problem is that Iran can respond in effective ways to a conventional attack. Moreover, an American attack on another Muslim country could result in turmoil and rebellion throughout the Middle East. This is why the neocons have changed US war doctrine to permit a nuclear strike on Iran.
Neocons believe that a nuclear attack on Iran would have intimidating force throughout the Middle East and beyond. Iran would not dare retaliate, neocons believe, against US ships, US troops in Iraq, or use their missiles against oil facilities in the Middle East.
Neocons have also concluded that a US nuclear strike on Iran would show the entire Muslim world that it is useless to resist America's will. Neocons say that even the most fanatical terrorists would realize the hopelessness of resisting US hegemony. The vast multitude of Muslims would realize that they have no recourse but to accept their fate.
Revised US war doctrine concludes that tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons cause relatively little "collateral damage" or civilian deaths, while achieving a powerful intimidating effect on the enemy. The "fear factor" disheartens the enemy and shortens the conflict.
University of California Professor Jorge Hirsch, an authority on nuclear doctrine, believes that an American nuclear attack on Iran will destroy the Non-Proliferation Treaty and send countries in pellmell pursuit of nuclear weapons. We will see powerful nuclear alliances, such as Russia/China, form against us. Japan could be so traumatized by an American nuclear attack on Iran that it would mean the end of Japan's sycophantic relationship to the US.
There can be little doubt that the aggressive US use of nukes in pursuit of hegemony would make America a pariah country, despised and distrusted by every other country. Neocons believe that diplomacy is feeble and useless, but that the unapologetic use of force brings forth cooperation in order to avoid destruction.
Neoconservatives say that America is the new Rome, only more powerful than Rome. Neoconservatives genuinely believe that no one can withstand the might of the United States and that America can rule by force alone.
Hirsch believes that the US military's opposition to the use of nuclear weapons against Iran has been overcome by the civilian neocon authorities in the Bush administration. Desperate to retrieve their drive toward hegemony from defeat in Iraq, the neocons are betting on the immense attraction to the American public of force plus success. It is possible that Bush will be blocked by Europe, Russia and China, but there is no visible American opposition to Bush legitimizing the use of nuclear weapons in behest of US hegemony.
It is astounding that such dangerous fanatics have control of the US government and have no organized opposition in American politics.
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Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.